US mobile users can unlock their phones and more easily switch carriers from today


Tired of your mobile operator’s service or plans? The Cellular Telephone Industries Association’s (CTIA) new standards on unlocking phones go into effect among all mobile service providers in the US today, allowing users to switch carriers, provided they clear any binding terms on their contracts.

President Obama signed a law that deemed it legal for mobile users to unlock their phones last August. From today, carriers who have voluntarily committed to follow the CTIA’s standards will unlock their customers’ devices on request.

AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon will comply with the CTIA’s code, and allow customers to unlock their phones at no extra charge. Bluegrass and Cellcom are also signed up to the code, but do not lock their devices.

As the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) notes in its FAQ on unlocking, a postpaid device is eligible to be unlocked by a participating provider after the user has fulfilled the applicable service contract, completed the device installment plan or paid an early termination fee.

With prepaid devices, users will have to wait a year before they can have their devices unlocked.

The FCC says that these carriers must notify postpaid customers when their devices are eligible for unlocking, while prepaid customers must only be informed at the time of purchase.

If you’re ready to make the switch, you can look up your carrier’s unlocking policy below to get started:

➤ Consumer Code for Wireless Service [CTIA]

Read next: Last chance to enter The iMac Giveaway - ends tonight!